This was another step in our big changes. I've mentioned small bits of it here and there already. But seeing as how it was a much needed focus for our family I thought I would put the spot light on it. Clutter is never a good thing. It can be dangerous, wastes your time taking care of it, and devalues what you do have that is worth keeping.
The dangerous one is easy to figure out. I've been thinking we should have a fire escape plan, and was thinking how there would be no way we would get out of a fire in the middle of the night with all the clutter we had. I mean, 7 children with toys, books, games, clothes, 'stuff'. Enough said :-) Before we touched anything we first made a plan. I think you may be catching on to a growing theme...making plans! How many pairs of pants does one child need? How many shoes, how many toys, how many....? It was obvious that we needed to get rid of a bunch of 'stuff'. If for safety reasons alone.
But safety wasn't our only goal. We were wasting a lot of time trying to manage all of our 'stuff'. The girls room chores were taking longer and longer as the months went on. We needed to pare back, then make a place for everything, and put everything in its place. That meant a wee bit of rearranging. It meant going through closets, under beds, on top of beds, in drawers, etc. This was what I was doing in my Great Purge Expedition I wrote on a month or so ago. It took longer than I anticipated. Now that it is done I can see where we can make some improvements. I personally would have liked to take all but the very essential furniture out of each room and then only add back in what we felt was really and truly necessary. I could have done that if my kids were 1 and 3 years old. It's a bit of a different story when they are 12 and 14 :-) Bit by bit. I am happy with the wave of purging we did accomplish and have resolved in my mind that we will have another round in the near future.
Along with the safety and time management issues of our clutter came the very reality that when kids have too many things they don't seem to really care about any of it. I've read this many times in the past. I loved a blog, no longer available, that talked about her family's journey to simplicity. They really, really took a bunch of things away. But the mom said that the more they had taken away the more her kids actually used and played with what they had left! So very true.
This is also an issue, the idea of simplicity, that is close to my heart. It is always something I have wanted as a lifestyle. I've written in the past about that desire, so I won't go too deep here. Before I had children my desire for them was not to have many toys, but a few, well chosen *open ended* toys. Less clutter, more imagination required. I didn't want the blinking lights, and fancy sounding toys. By taking things away my kids are now being more creative. They are using their hands to make things, and using their minds to create. They are playing and working together more. Please do not read that as they actually get ALONG while doing things together...but they are together more often now :-)
Keeping control of our clutter has also helped us stay on target with our schooling. None of us can think very well when we are surrounded by clutter (I'm speaking of my own family). Not to mention it's a lot easier to want to go into the kitchen to whip up a recipe when the counters are cleared. It's easier to lay out fabric on the floor to explore and create when you have open floor space available. In short, having less has been our success to doing more.